Yesterday on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption the hosts were talking about one of the players on the Denver Broncos, Knowshon Moreno (who's famously emotional and famous has been caught on TV openly weeping during the Anthem), and wondering if the emotion of the moment will get to him before the Super Bowl and wondering the odds are that he would be crying. At that point, host Tony Kornheiser noted that he didn't know much about Renee Fleming, will be singing the National Anthem before the Super Bowl tomorrow, the first opera singer to do so, and said he checked her out on YouTube, and commented, "Hey, I was weeping just listening to her."
I'm not a huge opera fan, though do listen on occasion -- oddly, I like it as background music -- though I do have one Renee Fleming CD. Kornheiser would not have been so surprised at his reaction perhaps if he knew the title of that album -- it's Beautiful Voice.
If much of the public was surprised by Ms. Fleming's selection to sing the National Anthem, they're not alone. She herself was quite self-effacing when she said she didn't even believe it when it was first brought up, "Really, I just rejected it out of hand." I just thought, 'Oh that's ridiculous, you know, it must be a joke.' Nobody's going to ask me to sing for the Super Bowl, even the National Anthem, because it's just never been done, that anybody who was in classical music or any other genre, frankly, other than really mainstream, successful, top-selling, commercial, mainstream artists. So I was stunned when it was real!"
By the way, the other day she was asked about the cold weather and how it might affect her voice, perhaps requiring her to lip-synch. It might be a comfort to some that she replied she "wouldn't know how to lip-sync if you paid me," adding that if there was a pre-recorded track "it would be a disaster. I only know how to sing live," She noted, "The thing I love to remind people about what I do is we're not even amplified. We are the final, major art form that is 100 percent acoustic and unplugged."
For those who want to prepare for the pre-game ceremonies, here is Renee Fleming doing what she does so wonderfully, singing "O mio babbino caro" by Giacomo Puccini from the opera Gianni Schicchi,
Yes, okay, there's a microphone here. She's got a big voice, but even it's not big enough to reach everyone at home listening on their TV...
For those who can't put up with opera, even just three minutes of it -- and something as gorgeous (and reasonably well-known) as that, here's a twofer: something more to your taste. It's when Ms. Fleming -- one of Barack Obama's favorite singers who he has on his iPod -- was asked to sing at his first Inauguration.
This is her with "You'll Never Walk Alone."
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor